I read a sentence:

He looked at his brown but slightly shopworn body in the mirror.

I wonder if it's saying "his body is getting old" or "his body is getting fat"?

Which understanding is more reasonable?

The sentence is from a dictionary, under the word shopworn, which is defined as:

shopworn (adj.) made dirty or imperfect by being displayed or handled in a store:
he brought out some shopworn lettuce

he appraised his brown but slightly shopworn body in the mirror

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    Shopworn - Worn or faded from being on display in a store. So he is getting OLD will be reasonable when compared with FAT. But he doesn't need to be old at all for his body to fade/look worn, it may have many other reasons. Commented Nov 11, 2013 at 9:21
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    As Indiana Jones once famously said, "It's not the years, it's the mileage." Shopworn gets across much the same idea: that of being dinged up and faded through use.
    – Martha
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 3:03

1 Answer 1


The word shopworn is a variant of worn, which is defined in the same dictionary as:

worn (adjective) damaged and shabby as a result of much use:
a worn, frayed denim jacket

very tired: his face looked worn and old

So I would say that shopworn is more related to age than to weight. However, I don't think it's simply old age. I think the phrase "of much use" is important – a man can be 80 and the word shopworn might not be a good fit. I'd interpret a shopworn body to be one that's perhaps a bit old, but feeling the effects of "much use." Perhaps the subject worked as a laborer for several years, and his joints are achy and stiff. It's not a word that's commonly used, though, so it's hard to say for sure.

Incidentally, I did a Google search for "a shopworn body", and the search engine return just one hit. That sentence referred to an aging boxer, which seems to confirm my conjecture. Changing the search to "his shopworn body" returned just three more, all referring to career wrestlers or boxers. 40 is not necessarily old, but, in those sports, it's plenty old enough for a professional athlete to become shopworn.

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